Before you apologize, you should take a step back and make sure that you’re not assuming the other person is upset.
People get mad, get frustrated, and get frustrated in a variety of ways.
Don’t jump to conclusions, or rush to apologize, if you aren’t quite sure why the other person is upset.
A lot of people rush to apologize because they try to offer examples that will show their “sorry” will be taken in the right light.
Instead of explaining that you didn’t mean to say something harsh or dismissively, try to find a less “momentous” example.
If your words weren’t “momentary,” and the other person had taken them to heart, they’re probably still feeling the sting of those words.
You might be setting the stage for more grief and hurt if you do so.
Don’t force a solution
Just because you’re sorry doesn’t mean that you’re actually trying to fix the situation.
You’re a person, not a genie who can wish up and down on an imaginary wish circle to make the other person happy.
If you apologize and nothing changes, you’re just giving in to pressure and, in the long run, disappointing the other person.
Too much pressure will make you feel like you’re back at square one.
Instead, understand that apologies aren’t magic charms that change a person’s perspective.
You don’t have to offer up excuses for the other person, either.
If you apologize and they say they’re not satisfied with your answer, give an honest and forthright answer, and then you can let go of the apology altogether.
Apologies aren’t about trying to solve a problem, but finding ways to bring you and the other person closer together again.
Admitting you’re wrong
Many people rush to apologize to smooth over a bad experience with someone else.
When someone is wrong or at fault, it’s important to accept your mistake and apologize for it.
If you wait for the other person to tell you they’re sorry and they can’t, it won’t be nearly as genuine.
People make mistakes. Telling them at the moment isn’t an effective way to make amends.
Apologizing is usually about getting things back to the way they were before the misstep.
When you apologize, you’re letting the other person know that you’ve learned your lesson and you won’t make the same mistake twice.
Let’s be honest. Apologies are about you. And it’s your responsibility to apologize.
You don’t want to take responsibility for something you didn’t do. It’s far more productive to own up to mistakes, rather than blaming someone else.
Instead of rushing to apologize, take responsibility for your part in a situation and apologize if you’re wrong or at fault.
Let the other person take the lead. Apologize when you’ve made a mistake.
Instead of admitting you’re sorry to make someone feel better, try using an apology to fix a problem.
If you try and apologize, but don’t offer a solution, you might feel defeated when the other person doesn’t seem to accept your apology.
Instead of looking for ways to smooth things over, apologize and move on.
Don’t make assumptions
If you make assumptions about a situation, you might be setting yourself up for a fall.
Asking someone to clarify information may feel polite, but it’s important to not jump to conclusions.
Instead of assuming that the other person might have said or done something that you didn’t expect, do your own research to make sure that you’re on the right track.
Rushing to apologize only causes more problems in the long run
Instead of saying, “I’m sorry you took that offense,” it’s better to say, “Thank you for clarifying the situation. My intention was not to disrespect you and I apologize if I did.”
You might even add that you can see how you could have communicated it differently.
Apologies can be challenging. But they can be a key step in rebuilding trust, even if that means saying sorry for the first time.
I’m going to be direct about whether or not I’m sorry
In general, I tend to be forgiving of my partners’ “you’re-not-sorry” moments.
I ask myself questions like, “Is this a fight we can’t get out of? If so, we can both apologize for that, even if it wasn’t my fault.” I don’t, however, pretend that my partner has suddenly become a flawless person.
It’s important to be clear about what’s going on and how I’m responding: “I don’t know why you’re rushing to apologize for making me feel rushed — I wasn’t making you feel rushed, but you were making me feel that way.”
“I know I tend to push to get things done, but when we rush, I feel like I’m taking advantage of you because I feel more inclined to keep you waiting.”
“I’m sorry I jumped the gun and made an assumption about why you rushed to apologize for something I didn’t realize at the time.”